Best Streaming Devices of 2018-2019

Best Streaming Devices of 2018-2019 Reviews

Best Streaming Devices of 2018-2019-A streaming media player is a device that can help your TV or home theater connect to the internet and free or paid online service so that you can easily watching videos or listening to the music. Basically, a streaming player is a basic device and it only need a number of connections like video (HDMI and/or composite), audio (RCA and/or digital), and Ethernet networking jacks.

TVs are getting smarter by the day, leaving owners of older models behind in terms of available features and services. Today’s streaming media players from the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Roku will make your older TV smarter the moment you plug them in.Streaming media refers to the many different ways that you can use the Internet to enjoy movies, TV shows, music, video games, and more. With so many streaming options available, choosing the ideal streaming media player might take a little bit of research.

The fact that you could connect that device to any HDMI input that’s available and then stream your favourite content wirelessly to a TV or a monitor was an ingenious idea. However, that was just the start; streaming devices in the modern day and age have come a lot far, they’ve become a lot more popular than they used to be, and in a world where people are moving towards streaming rather than having downloads in their devices, they’re making waves.

At the point of writing, there are countless streaming devices available in the market, each offering something different than the other, while maintaining the basic concept very well. While people who have been streaming content for years are already familiar with these devices, the concept for new comers is something that is rather confusing and alarming.

That’s why they get confused when they are in the market looking for a streaming device, there are so many options available that an average consumer usually gets baffled. Keeping that in mind, in order to help the consumers, make the right decision, we’re going to be looking at some of the best streaming devices that are available in the market at the moment.

So, let’s not waste more time, and start looking at all the devices that are available in the market, shall we?

Keep in mind that some of the devices that we will be reviewing are going to be by the same manufacturers, but will have some differences between one and other, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Now that we have it out of the way, we can go ahead and have a look; shall we go ahead.

This guide will help you find the streaming device and content services that best fit your lifestyle. So check out our Best Streaming Devices of 2018-2019 list

 Best Streaming Devices of 2018-2019

1.Roku 4 4400R 4K UHD Streaming Media Player

Roku 4 4400R 4K UHD Streaming Media PlayerRoku streaming media player models feature invariably in sites focusing on streaming device reviews and for good reasons. This streaming media gadget offers you access to over 4500+ TV channels featuring more than 4,50,000 TV shows and movies. The Roku Feed app offers you updates on every episode or event you wish to stream and also notifies you of a price plummet.

You can set up this gadget with a full HDTV or 4K ultra HDTV and you bet it’ll deliver picture quality that you expect from a high definition TV. It comes with an advanced remote that lets you plug the accompanying headset into it for enjoying audio without disturbing others. Voice search feature lets you track the remote if you’ve misplaced it accidently.

FEATURES

  • 4K ultra high definition streaming technology: crystal clear images
  • Streams over 4,500 TV channels
  • Compatible with HDTVs and ultra HDTVs
  • Voice search streaming by name of actor, film title or director
  • Upgrading from 720p and 1080p to 4K ultra HD
  • Easy installation: direct plugging into the HDMI port or the receiver

PROS

  • Roku 4 is extremely lightweight and compact enabling it to be placed comfortably and occupies minimal space
  • Remote control has numerous features including voice search and port for headphone jack
  • Across the board connectivity: has Ethernet, micro SD card slot and USB port
  • It is a streaming media player Android suitable for connecting with all Android and Windows-based gadgets
  • Stream endless media from digital gadgets to HDTV including music, movies, and photo files

CONS

  • Roku 4 gets extraordinarily after it has been in use for some hours and the fan doesn’t keep it cool enough
  • The device also gets terribly noisy after a few minutes of operation

2. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Streaming Media Player

The Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Streaming Media Player is one streaming stick that outdoes many set-top box models in terms of performance. It is one of the best live TV streaming devices that you’d just need to plug into the HDMI receptacle of your HDTV to enjoy more than movies, music, video games, and much more. The remote reinforced with the Alexa Voice functionality lets you monitor whatever you prefer to watch simply by talking into the RC.

You’d just need to subscribe to DIRECTV NOW or CBS All Access via the Fire TV stick in case you don’t have a satellite or cable connection. The full function not only lets you pick and choose from more than 30,000 movies and TV shows but also lets you enjoy your favorite music and shop online.

FEATURES

  • Quick and convenient access to thousands of networks and multiple service providers offering video, audio, movie, and TV channel streaming services
  • Streaming access even with a cable or satellite TV
  • Very lightweight and compact: weighs 32g and measures 3.4” x 1.2” x 0.5”
  • Alexa voice control remote
  • Broad-spectrum compatibility

PROS

  • Fast and convenient setup: simply plug in the stick in the TV’s HDMI port, connect with a wall outlet, link with net, and you’re ready to go
  • Compliable with any high definition TV, you can take the Fire Stick you wish to for enjoying movies or music outside your home
  • Convenience to watch your favorite TV show, football game or tuning in to your choice numbers even if you don’t have a cable TV subscription
  • Speak simple words into the remote for activating it to search what you’re looking for

CONS

  • To make the most of Fire Stick, you’ll first have to be an Amazon Prime member
  • There are other comparable streaming sticks that allows access to more content and greater customization in the home screen

3. Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Player

Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media PlayerThe Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Player is a step-up from its sibling-the Amazon Fire Stick. It is one of the best streaming devices for TV offering you instant access to online entertainment via your HDTV. This streaming media player lets you take pleasure in viewing movies in 4K ultra HD format which implies that the images are vivid, bright, and lifelike.

The interactive remote obeys your voice commands to stream more than 3,00,000 TV episodes and films. You can order for a hamburger or pizza while you’re lapping up your favorite motion picture just by just by pressing a knob on the remote. Simply put, the streaming possibilities are endless with the Amazon Fire TV streaming media player.

FEATURES

  • Voice control remote
  • 2GB memory and 8GB internal storage
  • Supports 720p, 1080p, and 4K ultra HD resolutions
  • Gaming support
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Micro-SD card slot, USB2.0 port, HDMI output, Ethernet, and DC jack
  • Weighs 9.5oz
  • Dimensions: 4.5” x 4.5” x 0.7”

PROS

  • Compatible with any 4K ultra HD TV, it streams high quality music as well as movies and videos of the highest clarity
  • Capable of streaming high resolution images even when connected to TV not having 4K technology
  • Can stream audio and video simply by listening to voice commands
  • Subscribing to DIRECTV NOW or CBS All Access lets you stream in real time even if you don’t have satellite or cable TV connection

CONS

  • This Amazon Streaming Media set-top box is not as portable as the streaming stick and also occupies more space
  • Alexa voice commands do not work for specific apps like ‘Netflix’
  • Users will have to buy an HDMI adapter cable separately
  • The remote is not very suitable for video games

4.Roku 1 Streaming Media Player (Certified Refurbished)

Roku 1 Streaming Media Player (Certified Refurbished)The Roku 1 Streaming Media Player serves as your passport to unlimited entertainment letting you watch your choice movies, soundtracks, TV shows, and sports channels and immerse yourself in action-packed video games. This android media player box not only has a small print occupying only 1.2 x 3.7 x 3.7 inches but also is eminently portable weighing just 3.5 ounces.

Roku 1 which is one of the best streaming devices for TV is compatible for connecting with both HD and SD (standard definition) TV sets. The connectivity ports include DC-in (for powering up), video-in, L/R audio-ins, and HDMI-in. You can surf more than 1,000 sports, movies, music, cooking and fitness channels and the streamed images will be of HD

FEATURES

  • Helps stream 2000+ channels
  • Can be set up with any SD or HDTV
  • 1080p image resolution
  • Quick and convenient wireless installation
  • Instant streaming of favorite channels from multifunctional remote
  • Android and iOS apps supplied free of cost
  • Watch preferred movie or TV episode simply by pressing a knob

PROS

  • Can be installed and carried conveniently as Roku 1 is very compact and lightweight
  • Compatible for setting up with any HDTV or standard definition TV via the HDMI port
  • Effective for streaming unlimited movie, music, sports, cooking, lifestyle, news, and fitness channels
  • Go back to watch your favorite movie or sports channel with a single press of a knob
  • Stream music, video, and other media files from your digital devices like smartphone, tab or laptop to your TV set

CONS

  • Since this is a revamped unit, don’t expect it to work as swiftly and smoothly in comparison to its bigger siblings
  • Will take inordinately to load some TV channels
  • HDMI connector cable not provided with the unit

5.NETGEAR NeoTV Streaming Player (NTV300)

NETGEAR NeoTV Streaming Player (NTV300)Transform your TV a one-stop entertainment center with the help of NETGEAR NeoTV Streaming Player. The NETGEAR NTV300 is one of the best streaming devices 2018 that converts your TV into a virtual device for accessing almost innumerable audio and video channels offered by streaming media service providers. Compatible for connecting with Wi-Fi, the gadget is effective in streaming 1080p HD images and 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus audio.

The remote control provided with NETGEAR NeoTV streaming player is incredibly versatile as it lets you stream gazillion TV episodes and motion pictures offered by Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, and much more. You can even use your smartphone as a remote for monitoring the NeoTV.

FEATURES

  • Built in Wi-Fi, Ethernet port, and HDMI out port
  • Capable of streaming thousands of movie, sports, news, and fitness channels
  • Images streamed have 1080p HD quality
  • Surround sound/5.1 Dolby Digital Plus audio quality
  • Can be set up with any iOS and Android enabled device
  • Comes with a full set of components for smooth and fast setup

PROS

  • Capable of streaming innumerable HD channels quickly and conveniently
  • Offers apps free of cost for linking up with any iOS and Android device
  • Ethernet port for wired connectivity
  • Equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity option
  • Convenience of converting your smartphone into a remote for streaming thousands of HD channels to your TV
  • Track your preferred entertainment channels swiftly and conveniently using the NeoTV remote

CONS

  • The media streamer slows down excessively and causes TV screen freeze up when streaming channels like Netflix or HuluPlus
  • Search results don’t always match what is selected from listed program catalogue
  • Many users will feel specific deficiencies of the remote like the lack of a QWERTY setup and the absence of a touchpad

 

Best Overall: Roku Ultra

Roku’s new flagship, the Ultra is a fantastic choice for streaming fans looking for the best-featured option. At 4.9 x 4.9 x .8 inches, the square-ish Ultra is capable of supporting both 4K and HDR picture quality with a powerful quad-core processor. The 4K Ultra HD streaming is handled at 60fps, or four times the resolution of 1080p HD, and, thanks to a new design, runs without fans. There’s an HDMI port, Ethernet port (plus 802.11 a/c), digital output, microSD slot for additional storage and a USB port. Unfortunately, there’s no HDMI cable included, which is a strange omission.

Thanks to a powerful processor, navigating Roku’s already friendly menu system is a cinch. Channel selection is front and center and shows apps that have been downloaded. The Ultra, like a number of other Roku devices, offers voice search, which works fairly well overall. Speak the name of the show, actor, director or app into the remote control or mobile app (Android and iOS) and voila, your results will pop up. The remote is standard Roku fashion with the colorful Purple direction pad and a slew of shortcuts to big name apps and other controlling functions.

There is a 4K spotlight app that highlights UHD content across a variety of services. Night mode is a welcome addition that tones down big explosions and highlights dialogue so you can let the rest of the house sleep while you watch late at night. The combination of the new processor, 4K and HDR streaming, plus one of the most expansive channel selections, means the Ultra won’t disappoint.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Roku Stick

The Roku stick has a powerful quad-core processor and dual-band wireless that provides up to 8x more processing power than ever before. The usual suspects are here with Netflix, VUDU, Amazon, Google Play and more. In fact, it’s this selection that helped earn the Roku Stick our top spot.

Unlike Chromecast and Apple TV, Roku is platform agnostic and wants to give its customers all the options and it does so with gusto. We’d love to see 4K support, but that’s a sacrifice we can make thanks to the superb IR-ready remote control, excellent companion app for Android and iOS and hundreds of apps and services. In fact, the only big name missing here is iTunes and unsurprisingly, you won’t find iTunes anywhere other than an Apple-manufactured product. You might miss out on expandable storage but, again, aspects like best-in-class search allows us to overlook some of the Roku Stick drawbacks.

There are some additional downsides, like the fact that not every included streaming app is up to date with its most recent UX changes or that its HDMI-only which is bad news for older TV owners. Also, we’d love to see Roku do something about an average 2 minute and 52 second startup time. However, thanks to its selection of streaming content, a fast and incredibly responsive interface and cross-service search, the Roku Stick is an easy choice for best overall streaming TV device.

Best Streamer for Amazon Prime Members: Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

$40

Prime

Amazon’s newest generation of Fire TV Sticks is currently categorized as the No. 1 Best Selling Electronic on its site. It’s one of the only streaming devices on the market that’s under $40 and comes with a remote that features wireless voice control. If you’re an Amazon Prime Member, there’s no better streaming device that rewards you like the Fire TV Stick.

The Fire TV Stick includes the Alexa Voice Remote that can read a user’s verbal commands. For example, speaking into the remote and saying “Launch Netflix” will boot up Netflix streaming, saying “Alexa, pause” will pause the video or music you’re playing – you can even tell Alexa to order a pizza or find movie show times. The streaming device is even better if you’re an Amazon Prime Member; you can get unlimited access to Prime Video, which features thousands of movies and TV episodes with no additional costs. Members can even add on specialty channels such as HBO and Showtime – which was previously exclusive to only Apple TV.

The Fire TV Stick includes 75 percent more processing power than its predecessors, includes a dedicated graphics engine, better Wi-Fi support, 2GB of memory and 8 GB of storage that’s expandable up to 200 GB. It supports 4K Ultra HD and features all of your favorite streaming channels such as YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Video.

Best Budget: Roku Express

$30

Prime

The title of Roku’s most affordable streaming device now belongs to the Express and it’s wearing it like a badge of honor. Stuffed with all the apps and services you’ll find on any other Roku device, it’s capable of 1080p video output, but hits its low price with slightly slower performance and a basic infrared remote control. Setup is a snap with the included 18-inch HDMI cable and Roku’s intuitive interface makes it easy to search across 350,000+ movies and TV episodes across 3,500+ paid or free channels, including big names like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, PBS kids and more.

The Roku Express supports 802.11 b/g/n/ dual-band MIMO in a tiny package that’s just .7 x 3.4 x 1.4 inches and weighs 1.3 ounces. The included infrared (line-of-sight) remote is the standard Roku 5.3-inch black wand with a purple direction pad that’s complemented by a Home, Back, Replay and Option buttons.

If you compared the Roku Express side-by-side against its more expensive siblings, you’d notice a slight delay in overall performance: think menu loading, app loading etc. However, the slow(er) performance doesn’t in any way hinder video and TV performance that play just as well as more expensive options. Additionally, there’s no remote-based voice search a la the Amazon Fire TV Stick or web-mirroring like the Chromecast but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re looking to get online and stream thousands of your favorite shows as inexpensively as possible, the Roku Express will not disappoint.

Best for Smartphones: Chromecast Ultra

Google Chromecast

 

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Google’s taking the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” saying and throwing it right out the window by taking the already impressive Google Chromecast and making it even better. The Chromecast Ultra now offers streaming in 4K Ultra HD and HDR with additional speed boosts to handle the more intense quality. Like its predecessors, the Chromecast Ultra plugs right into your TV’s HDMI port and works with the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and laptops with thousands of Cast-enabled apps.

Google’s Chromecast supports more than 200,000 TV shows and movies, plus 30 million songs, radio, sports, games and more. While it’s arguable that options like the Roku are more feature-rich, Google’s Chromecast Ultra may be the easiest and best-designed streaming service around.

The inclusion of an Ethernet adapter will assist homes and Internet connections that might not already be optimized and ready to take advantage of 4K streaming. Chromecast users will find the ability to mirror websites right on the TV, as well as mirror their smartphone. Power is supported through a microUSB connection that can go right into any power outlet, while HDMI plugs right into the TV. More »

Runner-Up, Best for Smartphones: Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

 

Courtesy of BestBuy.com

Google’s Chromecast is arguably one of the best-known streaming TV devices and for good reason: It’s one of the least expensive. Now, with plenty of competition, Google has maintained the “less is more” approach by relying heavily on outside devices to control its playback. Whether you love it or hate it, the Chromecast has no remote control, period. Its selection of supported content rivals Roku and grows almost daily.

Through Chrome on the desktop or through official (or unofficial) apps on Android and iOS, there’s truly plenty of reasoning to give the Chromecast a long, hard look. One benefit is its portability (it’s really small). That’s great for anyone traveling and wanting to hook up to a hotel TV and stream their own content. The Chromecast would be our-go option for travel as we just need the unit itself and our smartphone rather than worrying about including a separate remote. Its new design mirrors a small, plastic hockey puck. The single, short cable connects to a single HDMI connecter and goes right into your TV. Setting up the Chromecast is incredibly easy. Just plug it in, grab the Chromecast app for your smartphone and follow the few prompts and you’re off to the races.

One notable difference from the rest of this list is the lack of any on-screen interface. The Chromecast doesn’t have one and Google has hinted that one will never arrive. Utilizing your existing apps ala Netflix to jump right into “casting” is simple, easy and requires just the tap of a single button. While the lack of iTunes and Amazon’s content is recognized, we can find most of the first-run and historical content we want on Google Play. More »

Best Apple Streaming Device: Apple TV 4

Apple TV 4

 

Courtesy of BestBuy.com

Apple TV 4 is a smaller, more expensive unit but retains the polished interface that has made Apple’s products some of the best-selling devices. The 1.66-ounce unit features incredible voice search from Siri, an excellent selection of apps and AirPlay for unsupported apps. Apple TV supports many of the same services as the Roku but adds the ability to play back content from your iTunes library. Throw in mirroring from your iPhone, iPad or Macbook through AirPlay and you’ve got a whole lot of possibilities.

Still, not everything is perfect as anyone not tied into Apple’s ecosystem won’t see the full value of the Apple TV. Given the cost, there’s little question this streaming TV device is only good for those completely sold on Apple’s closed ecosystem. Of 6,000+ native apps on the Apple TV now, 1,300 are for streaming video. Siri voice search does well, but its app limitation is an annoyance given how well Roku has performed this function at a cheaper cost. One particular note is that most buyers should be more than satisfied with the less expensive 32GB model rather than the 64GB model. Unless you’re looking to use the Apple TV as a heavy gaming machine, the smaller memory learns how to free up space on its own to allow for the introduction of new apps.

The lack of first-run content from other sources like Google Play is a notable omission, but hardly a surprise in today’s Apple vs Android world. Considering that most first-run content is available on each platform (save for some exclusives), it’s not a deal breaker. More »

Best 4K Streamer: Roku 4

$98

Prime

Unlike most of its competition that strive for 1080p quality, the Roku 4 truly takes quality to another level. The addition of 2,500+ streaming channels, 4x the resolution of 1080p HD and advanced up-scaling for 720p HD TVs all seal the Roku 4’s place as a winner in our book. Capable of working with any TV with an HDMI connection, 4K streaming is limited to TVs that are already 4K UHD ready which isn’t as popular as 1080p models but expect that to change dramatically in the next few years.

One notable drawback is that the Roku 4 only supports HDMI 2.0, not HDMI 2.0a, which might not seem like a big detail today, but it could be in the future when additional support for high-dynamic streaming content is added. The Roku 4 matches its Stick companion in responsiveness and ease-of-use and we love the addition of quick-access buttons for both Netflix and Sling. All the major players are available through Roku including Netflix, Twitch, YouTube, Amazon, and Hulu. Want to stream photos, music and videos stored on your smartphone directly to the Roku 4? You’re just one app download away from yet another wonderful benefit of owning a Roku.

Best Streamer for Gamers: NVIDIA Shield

$200

Prime

If it’s gaming you really want, the NVIDIA Shield is your Android TV streamer of choice. Rather than the more expansive and feature-rich options like the Xbox One or Playstation 4, the Shield is a happy medium between a gaming device and full TV streamer. While it’s pricey, it does come with 16GB of internal storage and performance that’s 3x faster than the Apple TV, 10x faster than the Roku 4 and 4x faster than the Fire TV. There’s no shortage of entertainment prospects here including Netflix, HULU, YouTube, ESPN, Showtime, Disney, Kodi, HBO, etc. Pick up the additional remote and say things like “Oscar-winning movies” or “Launch Netflix” and Google’s advanced voice commands will find exactly what you’re looking for. Although one notably absent service is Amazon’s Prime Video.

All the streaming TV options are just icing on the cake as the real prize is the gaming. Capable of streaming new and classic PC games from the cloud via GeForce NOW alongside a host of Android and SHIELD-exclusive gaming options, there’s everything from family favorites, indie hits to the biggest names in mobile gaming. Realistically, it’ll run gaming circles around the Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire TV but it’s still not a dedicated replacement for a game console. Included is a game controller which also functions as the main way to search.

Setup is relatively easy with Android TV and the Shield is no exception. Choose a language, WiFi password, account log-in and you’re off. The Shield handles all OS and app updates behind the scenes leaving you to enjoy the fruits of technology.

1 Apple TV 4K Streaming Device

Apple TV 4K

from $179 BUY NOW

The Apple TV 4K supports not only UHD resolution, but also both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision content standards as well. You can stream 4K movies from iTunes and Netflix, with Amazon Prime due to arrive in the immediate future. Best of all, Apple won’t charge you extra for renting and buying 4K movies. Finding 4K content on the new Apple TV is as easy as asking Siri. Of course, the streaming device will also give you access to an excellent selection of apps and games.

Bottom Line: A solid contender for the best streaming device out there.

More: Our Review of the Apple TV 4K

2 NVIDIA SHIELD TV Streaming Device

NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro

from $200 BUY NOW

The updated NVIDIA SHIELD TV disguises a powerful gaming console as a sleek Android TV box, allowing you to tell your significant other that you’re buying it to watch your favorite Netflix and Amazon Prime shows in 4K HDR. The console also comes with the Google Assistant on board, thus allowing you to easily search for content, open apps, and control smart home appliances with your voices. Thanks to its powerful Tegra X1 chipset, up to 500 GB of storage, and an array of exclusive gaming titles, the SHIELD TV will not only stream content for you, but also fulfill your casual gaming needs.

Bottom Line: A noteworthy rival to the Apple TV 4K.

More: An In-Depth Look at the NVIDIA SHIELD TV

3 Amazon Fire TV (2018) Streaming Device

Amazon Fire TV (2017) Streaming Device

$70 BUY NOW

Designed to stay out of sight, the latest Fire TV will allow you to enjoy 4K HDR content from all major streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Other key features of the streaming device include support for Dolby Atmos audio and an Alexa-enabled remote control.

Bottom Line: Handily the most attractive option in its price range.

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4 Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Streaming Stick+

$70 BUY NOW

The Streaming Stick+ by Roku, like its predecessors, has been designed to plug directly into the HDMI port of your compatible TV or monitor. It can stream 4K HDR content from all major streaming services, so it’s well-connected, too. Speedy dual-band Wi-Fi and Roku’s signature remote control round up the small gadget’s key features.

Bottom Line: If you want a Roku, buy this one. 

5 Google Chromecast Ultra for Media Streaming

Google Chromecast Ultra

$69 BUY NOW

The Google Chromecast Ultra is a compact and powerful option that can stream 4K and HDR content from the likes of Netflix and YouTube. It hangs from one of the HDMI ports on your TV, and it gives you access to Google’s catalog of movies and TV shows. It can also mirror the screen of your Android smartphone, as well as display content from your Chrome browser.

Bottom Line: A great option, as long as you don’t mind using your favorite mobile device instead of a remote control. 

6 Roku Express Ful HD Streaming Device

Roku Express

$25 BUY NOW

The Roku Express is as affordable as it is tiny. Easy to setup and use, the gadget can stream Full HD content from all major popular services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and SlingTV, among others. Of course, Roku’s excellent remote is also part of the product’s package.

Bottom Line: Great for bringing streaming services to older TVs on the cheap. 

More: The Best 4K TVs Out There (Like, Right Now!)

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7 Amazon Fire TV Stick Streaming Device

Amazon Fire TV Stick

$40 BUY NOW

The all-new Amazon Fire TV Stick is now smarter than ever thanks to its support for the tech giant’s smart home platform, Alexa. This means that users can not only search for and play content, but also control compatible appliances and even order pizza. Even though it looks like its predecessor, the new Fire TV Stick features a snappier quad-core processor and support for speedier Wi-Fi.

Bottom Line: This is our favorite option for older TVs without 4K resolution.

8 Roku Ultra Streaming Device

Roku Ultra Streaming Device

$100 BUY NOW

The Roku Ultra player is currently the company’s range-topping streaming device. In addition to being capable of delivering 4K video at 60fps, the device takes things up a notch from the Premiere model by adding HDR content support, as well as a digital audio output. The player’s excellent remote also features an audio jack for private listening.

Bottom Line: Roku’s most capable streaming device.

9 TiVo BOLT DVR and Stream

TiVo BOLT

$144 BUY NOW

A solid option for cord cutters who like to watch their favorite TV on their own time, the TiVo BOLT has a whopping 500 GB of built-in storage, and it can record up to four shows simultaneously. It can also stream 4K content from popular services, allowing you to make the most out of the latest generation of TVs. Rather atypically for a set-top box, it’s beautiful to look at, too.

Bottom Line: In an era of sleek user interfaces and powerful virtual assistants, the TiVo Bolt feels a generation behind its competitors. 

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10 Roku Premiere Media Streaming Device

Roku Premiere

$52 BUY NOW

The all-new Roku Premiere is all about delivering 4K content on a tight budget. Streaming UHD video on the player is possible thanks to a snappy quad-core processor, as well as support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity. Roku offers access to all major streaming services, while the player’s remote is handily one of the best around.

Bottom Line: All about delivering 4K content on a tight budget. No HDR, though.

1. Google Chromecast 2

Although the original iteration of the Google Chromecast succeeded very well as a media streaming device, the minds at Google were able to improve even more on the original concept. The Google Chromecast 2 improves on the original with a more attractive design, as well as an important upgrade to include the use of Wifi. When it comes to content, you will not be disappointed with the selection to choose from, as the Chromecast 2 boasts access to dozens of streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and all other major streaming services. The Google Chromecast 2 does not ship with a remote, so you will need to own some kind of device that is compatible with the Chromecast, however nearly all modern day smartphones, tablets, and computers will work without issue.

 

2. Roku Streaming Stick

Similar to the Google Chromecast 2 mentioned above, the Roku Streaming Stick is streaming giant Roku’s answer to palm-sized media streamers. Like the Chromecast, the Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into the HDMI port of your television, much like a USB drive plugs into a computer. Unlike its Google counterpart, the Streaming Stick comes with a controller, which is especially useful if you do not wish to use a separate device to operate it.

The Roku Streaming Stick has access to over 500 channels, which are downloaded in a similar way that mobile apps are. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Spotify are some of the most popular options, however hundreds more are available for download, typically for free. However, the device does not support 4K resolution output, making it fall short for those looking for an Ultra-HD experience.

 

3. Roku 3

When media streaming to our televisions first entered the scene, Roku was one of the first companies to develop an affordable, working streaming box. Although other major companies such as Google and Amazon have come up with their own answer to the original Roku, the newest flagship from the media streaming giant continues to be one of the best on the market. For those looking for a fast, fluid experience with hundreds of choices for content, the Roku 3 may be the answer. Like its smaller, slower Streaming Stick companion, the Roku 3 comes complete with a very useful remote control, however the controller for the Roku 3 has some added benefits.

The Roku 3 controlling functions similarly to that of the Nintendo Wii gaming console, in that it has a built-in motion sensor. This motion sensor can be used to play games on the Roku 3, including titles such as Angry Birds. The other useful, added function to the controller is that it has a headphone jack, allowing you to plug in a set of headphones and listen to your television without disturbing others in the room. With hundreds of Roku channels to choose from, this device has to be considered one of the best media streamers on the market.

 

4. Amazon Fire TV 4K

If you’re looking for an Ultra-HD experience without breaking the bank, the Amazon Fire TV 4K may be your best option for a media streaming device. The Amazon Fire TV 4K is a well-designed, sleek streaming box which can sit on any surface near your TV. The device includes the option to use voice search, which is useful if you don’t want to use the controller to type in each individual letter of a search. If you happen to be an Amazon Prime member, the Amazon Fire TV 4K will work especially well for you, as the interface is designed specifically for Amazon services (although the Fire TV works just as well with services like Netflix).

 

5. Google Nexus Player

Along with streaming media such as television shows, movies, and music, new media streaming devices are starting to introduce gaming capabilities. If you are looking for something that can play games as well as stream media, the Google Nexus Player is an excellent choice. With the optional Bluetooth game pad add-on, this media streamer excels at giving you a good gaming experience with a reasonable price tag. The Nexus Player also comes with all of the media streaming capabilities of the Chromecast, meaning that you can play games and watch movies and television with ease on one device.

 

6. WD TV Live Media Streamer

If you already have a substantial library of media stored on a computer or server, the WD TV Live Media Streamer is likely the best option for you. It supports the streaming of nearly all commonly used file formats, meaning that you can watch all of the content you have saved on your computer.

The WD TV Live Media Streamer can be wirelessly connected to your computer, making it easy to stream content from your hard drive. You can also plug a USB full of content into the front of the Live Media Streamer, and play the content from there. If you’re looking for something to enhance the content you already have, the WD TV Live Media Streamer is without a doubt your best option, but be aware that the price tag is higher than most other media streaming devices.

 

7. Philips HMP2000

A simple streaming device, the Philips HMP2000 is best for those looking for something just to stream Netflix, and not much more. What the Philips HMP2000 lacks in versatility, it gains in simplicity, making it a great choice if you want a simple streaming device that is uncomplicated. Much like the WD TV Live Media Streamer, the Philips device has the capability to use content from a hard drive or USB, however its lack of DLNA connectivity makes this feature less useful. Overall, the Philips HMP2000 is a great media streaming device for those who remain happy with their TV, but wish to have Netflix access.

 

8. Roku 2

If you want a reliable, affordable streaming device that doesn’t bother with unnecessary add-ons, the Roku 2 is an excellent choice. It includes access to hundreds of Roku channels and apps like its new counterpart, the Roku 3, however the Roku 2 doesn’t bother with a motion sensing controller or the ability to play games. By trading in some features you may not need, the Roku 2 will give you a high-end media streaming experience for a small price tag.

 

9. EZCast

The EZCast looks so similar to the Google Chromecast that some consider it plainly a tribute to its doppelgänger. However, the EZCast boasts a price tag half that of the Chromecast, and is a good option for those on a tight budget. It comes with access to basic streaming services, such as Netflix, and like the Chromecast, it will need to be controlled by an app on your phone or tablet. Overall, the EZCast may not come with all of the features of the Chromecast, but for the pricetag, it can be worth a try for those looking to save money.

 

10. NETGEAR NeoTV Streaming Player

Coming in last on our list is the one of the most budget-friendly media streaming device we could find. For half the price of the Roku 2, the NETGEAR NeoTV Streaming Player offers a decent media streaming experience for those looking to save money. It has many of the same functions as the other media streamers on this list, and it includes a wireless remote control, eliminating the need for an accompanying app (however there is an app which you can use to control the device, but it is not necessary). The NETGEAR NeoTV Streaming Player give you access to most major streaming platforms, such as Netflix, CinemaNow, as well as YouTube.

Cut the Cord

There are many ways to watch online content on your TV. Your television itself might have apps, or you might have a Blu-ray player or game system connected with built-in streaming services. If neither case applies, or if your TV, Blu-ray player, or game system doesn’t have the exact media features you want, you can get a dedicated media streaming hub. Most media streamers allow you to set up your TV with any online or local media streaming services you need for well under $100.

Among the media streamers currently available, five platforms stand out: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Cast, and Roku. All of these platforms except Google Cast have on-screen menu systems and dedicated remotes so you can view whatever you want from the couch, without a mobile device to control everything. Google Cast is a bit different, as it relies on a smartphone, tablet, or PC with Cast-compatible apps to stream content. No matter which you choose, they each give you access to many of the most popular music and video streaming services available.

Resolution is another big factor to consider. All of the platforms mentioned aside from Apple have options for ultra high-definition (4K) and HDR content. In the list above you’ll find the top-rated media streamers we’ve tested. Below is a closer looking at the top media streaming platforms.

New Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon’s Fire TV platform is built around FireOS, a modified version of Android designed with Amazon’s content in mind. Fire TV devices are focused heavily on Amazon Prime content, with Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime Music built prominently into the menu system. There are plenty of other content services available through Fire TV as individual apps, like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and YouTube, but the big advantage of Fire TV is having all of your Prime content right at your fingertips.

Amazon has equipped its Fire TV platform with Alexa, the same voice assistant used in the Amazon Echo speaker. It’s basically Amazon’s version of Siri, and it’s a useful tool to use with the voice remote included with the current Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The newest Fire TV supports 4K video, and the newest Fire TV Stick features a lower price and includes a voice remote by default.

Element Electronics plans to release new sets with Fire TV built directly in next month.

Chromecast Ultra

Google Cast

Google Cast is the least visually obtrusive and physically complicated media streaming platform; you take a Chromecast or Chromecast Audio, plug it into a power source, plug it into your TV or sound system, and control everything through your mobile device. There are no remotes, no on-screen interfaces, and no app stores to separately navigate. You just connect your Chromecast to your home network and stream whatever you’re watching (from a Google Cast-compatible app, of which there are many) on your smartphone or tablet.

It’s easy to use and economical, since both the Chromecast and audio-only Chromecast Audio are the least expensive media streamers on this list at $35 each, and the Chromecast Ultra is the least expensive 4K media streamer at $69. And all three work with Google Home, so you can issue voice commands for what you want to watch, and even see supplemental information related to voice searches (such as your Google Calendar).

Roku Premiere+

Roku

Roku calls the services and apps available on its devices Channels, and currently offers thousands of choices on the Roku Channel Store. All of the big streaming media names are available, including Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Sling TV, and Twitch, along with many smaller, niche apps and services for movies, sports, weather, news, and international content. Roku’s current lineup is its largest, with a total of six models across a wide range of prices and features. The Roku Streaming Stick and Premiere+ stand out as the top choices, for respectively offering an affordable package with a point-anywhere remote and 4K capability.

Roku has also pushed into the television market with its Roku TV platform. The company doesn’t make TVs itself, but it offers its technology to manufacturers to incorproate into their screens. This has allowed many more budget-priced televisions to include connected features they couldn’t use a few years ago, while keeping prices low. Roku TVs work just like Roku media streamers, only they’re built directly into the TVs themselves. Now many Roku TVs natively support 4K as well.

Nvidia Shield TV

Android TV

Android TV is Google’s dedicated Android-based media streamer menu system, different from the heavily modified version of Android used in Amazon’s Fire TV products. On paper, it offers a more powerful and feature-rich interface than Apple TV or Roku, but we’ve yet to be truly impressed by it. It feels clunky, and its app store is tiny compared with Google’s conventional Android app store, as well as the Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku stores.

However, Android TV was the first platform to offer Netflix 4K content outside of a TV with the Netflix 4K app built-in, and it remains a powerful system, especially when paired with powerful hardware like in the Nvidia Shield TV. Android TV devices are also all Google Cast compatible, so you can use your smartphone or tablet to stream content to it just as if you had a Chromecast.

Apple TV (2015)

Apple TV

The latest Apple TV$149.99 at Apple Store got some long-anticipated upgrades, but it hasn’t gone far enough to keep up with the competition. The new Apple TV now has its own App Store, greatly expanding the software and services available on the device. It’s also equipped with a voice control remote, and you can use Siri with it just like you can with your iOS phone or tablet. It’s still very Apple-centric, with music services focusing more on Apple Music than third-party apps, and unlike Android TV, Fire TV, and Roku, it doesn’t support 4K. Still, its iOS integration is very appealing for dedicated Apple users who want to take advantage of features like AirPlay in addition to the usual media streaming options.

Any of the devices here are a great choice for bringing online content to your TV. For even more options, check out our media streamer product guide.

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